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How to Write a Buddy Letter for PTSD: Step-by-Step Instructions and Tips

November 21, 2023

Many individuals who have experienced trauma and are seeking benefits for their PTSD may be asked to provide a buddy letter as evidence. A buddy letter is a personal statement from someone who can attest to the impact of the trauma on the individual's mental health. This letter can have a significant impact on the outcome of the benefits claim, making it essential to write it effectively.

But how to write a buddy letter for PTSD? And what are the key elements that make it persuasive and supportive?

In this guide, let’s explore the steps of writing a buddy letter in detail to ensure your letter makes the strongest impact possible.

Purpose of the Buddy Letter

The primary purpose of a buddy letter is to support a veteran's claim for PTSD by providing a firsthand account of the veteran's experiences and symptoms. Considering that approximately 7 out of every 100 Veterans (or 7%) will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, these letters can be vital in substantiating claims where direct evidence of the condition, like medical records or service documentation, might be insufficient or unavailable.1 By detailing specific events, behaviors, and the impact of PTSD on the veteran's life, a buddy letter helps to paint a comprehensive picture that can significantly influence the outcome of the claim process.

What to Include in the Buddy Letter

“You must create a compelling and persuasive account of the veteran's experiences with PTSD.”

To write a powerful buddy letter for PTSD, there are several key elements that you should include. These elements will help provide a comprehensive and compelling account of the veteran's experiences and how they have been affected by post-traumatic stress disorder. Let's dive into each of these elements in detail:

Personal Statement

In your buddy letter, it is crucial to begin with a personal statement. This statement should introduce yourself and explain your relationship with the veteran. It is important to establish your credibility as a witness who has firsthand knowledge of the veteran's experiences and struggles. Share how long you have known the veteran and any relevant background information that establishes your connection.

Relationship With Veteran

Next, emphasize your relationship with the veteran. Highlight why you are in a unique position to provide insight into their experiences during their military service and their subsequent struggle with PTSD. Discuss shared deployments, daily interactions, or any other circumstances that allowed you to witness firsthand the impact PTSD has had on their life.

Events During Service That Could Have Contributed to PTSD Symptoms

Detail specific events or situations during the veteran's military service that could have contributed to the development of PTSD symptoms. Explain what you personally observed or experienced alongside them during these incidents. Be as specific as possible when describing these events, providing dates, locations, and any other pertinent details that can support your claims.

Details About Veteran's Current Symptoms and Behavior Related to PTSD

Describe in detail the current symptoms and behaviors exhibited by the veteran that are related to their PTSD diagnosis. Discuss any changes you have observed in their mood, sleep patterns, anxiety levels, or social interactions since returning from service. Provide concrete examples of how these symptoms manifest themselves in daily life.

How PTSD Has Impacted Daily Life and Relationships With Others

Explain how PTSD has impacted the veteran's daily life and relationships with others.2 Share instances where their symptoms have affected their ability to work, maintain friendships, or engage in activities they once enjoyed. Illustrate the challenges they face in managing their symptoms and how it has affected their overall quality of life.

Other Evidence Supporting Service Connection for PTSD

Lastly, include any other evidence that supports the service connection for PTSD. This can include additional lay statements from other individuals who have witnessed the veteran's struggles or medical records that document their diagnosis and treatment. The more corroborating evidence you can provide, the stronger your buddy letter will be.

Formatting the Buddy Letter

“Ensure that your buddy letter is well-structured, easy to read, and effectively conveys the impact of PTSD on the veteran's life!”

Length of the Letter

It's important to consider the length of your letter. While you want to provide enough detail and information to support your case, it's essential to keep the letter concise and focused. A lengthy letter may become overwhelming for the reader and could potentially dilute the impact of your key points.

To ensure an effective buddy letter, aim for a length of one to two pages. This allows you to provide sufficient information without going into unnecessary details or rambling on. Keep in mind that the purpose of the buddy letter is to convey specific instances or examples that demonstrate how your condition has affected you personally.

Structuring Paragraphs Logically and Clearly

In addition to considering the length of your buddy letter, structuring paragraphs logically and clearly is crucial for readability and comprehension. Each paragraph should focus on one main point or example, making it easier for the reader to follow along with your narrative.

Start each paragraph with a clear topic sentence that introduces what will be discussed in that particular section. This helps establish a smooth flow throughout your buddy letter and ensures that each point is properly addressed.

Here are some tips for structuring paragraphs effectively:

  1. Use short sentences: Break down complex ideas into shorter sentences for better understanding.

  2. Provide supporting evidence: Back up your claims with specific examples, such as incidents or situations that illustrate how PTSD has impacted your daily life.

  3. Use transition words: Words like "additionally," "furthermore," or "in addition" can help connect ideas between paragraphs.

  4. Stay organized: Arrange paragraphs in a logical order, such as chronologically or by theme, so that there is a clear progression in your narrative.

  5. Maintain clarity: Avoid using jargon or technical terms unless necessary; instead, use simple language that anyone can understand.

Submitting the Buddy Letter

Once your buddy letter is complete, it's important to know how to properly submit it. Typically, the letter should be submitted as part of the veteran's claim for PTSD benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It can be included with the initial claim submission or added to an existing claim. Ensure that all contact information is accurate, and keep a copy of the letter for your records. The VA will consider this letter along with other evidence when evaluating the claim. Remember, timely submission is key to supporting the veteran's claim process effectively.

FAQs About Buddy Letter for PTSD

What should I do if the VA finds my buddy letter not credible?

If the VA deems your buddy letter not credible, it's important to review the reasons for their decision. Consider obtaining a more detailed letter or additional letters from different sources that can corroborate your experiences and claims. Consulting with a veterans' affairs advocate or legal advisor can also provide guidance on how to strengthen your claim.

Can a buddy letter be submitted after a PTSD claim has already been filed?

Yes, a buddy letter can be submitted even after a PTSD claim has been filed. It can serve as additional evidence to support the claim, especially if new information or insights relevant to the case have emerged.

Is there a specific format required for a buddy letter to be accepted by the VA?

While there's no strict format required by the VA, the letter should be clear, concise, and well-structured. It should include the writer's contact information, relationship to the veteran, and firsthand observations of the veteran's PTSD symptoms.

Can family members write a buddy letter for a PTSD claim?

Absolutely. Family members who have closely observed the veteran's struggles with PTSD can provide valuable insights in a buddy letter. Their perspective on changes in behavior, mood, and daily functioning can be instrumental in substantiating the claim.

Should I consider obtaining a new buddy letter if the previous one was rejected?

Yes, if your initial buddy letter was rejected or considered not credible, obtaining a new letter can be beneficial. The new letter should address any deficiencies noted by the VA and provide additional, more detailed information to support your claim.

Final Thoughts on Crafting a Buddy Letter for PTSD

In conclusion, learning how to write a buddy letter for PTSD is an invaluable skill that can provide crucial support to veterans seeking recognition and help for their service-related trauma. By following the guidelines and tips outlined in this guide, you can create a powerful and empathetic narrative that effectively conveys the veteran's experiences and struggles. Your effort in writing this letter not only helps in the veteran's claim process but also serves as a profound gesture of support and understanding for their journey towards healing and recovery.

Are you a veteran seeking to understand how anxiety is rated for VA disability claims? Gain insights into the VA disability rating system for anxiety, including criteria and evaluation processes in this guide.

Michael Blair contributes his expertise to help veterans access government benefits and resources. Through his informative articles and guides, he plays a vital role in empowering veterans and improving their quality of life.
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